Baking our first Blue Zones bread | East Bernard Express

My wife and I, like many other seniors, have tried many “diets” from time to time in hopes of improving our health.

Still, there was always a reason to break the diet, because none were ever satisfying. We continued to want healthy food, but also food that appealed to our palate. Not possible, I finally concluded!

The other day I came across a very old magazine article with startling facts that I had never heard or read before. Apparently the rest of the world is familiar with the research and writings of Dan Buettner, who has researched and written about the longevity of people living in what he has called the Blue Zones of the world – namely Japan, Okinawa, Italy, Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Nicoya, Ikaria and Loma Linda, California.

Buettner observed that people who lived in these countries lived longer and were healthier than anywhere else in the world. A tireless researcher, he spent twenty years studying the lifestyle and eating habits of the inhabitants of the Blue Zones. Not only did they practice healthy eating, but they also practiced healthy living.

To fully tell the story of the Blue Zones would require writing a book, and Buettner did. It’s called “Blue Zone Solutions”. In fact, he’s written more than one book, including “The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100”, published in 2012 (you can see I’m quite late to find out).

I haven’t read any of her books… yet, but I ordered her cookbook, and read Eliza Barclay’s 2015 NPR article, “Eating to Break 100: Longevity Diet Tips from The Blue Zones”.

I liked the fact that the inhabitants of the blue zones ate fish at least three times a week, red meat only five times a month, lots of vegetables and fruits, drank coffee and tea and, most importantly for me, they ate four kinds of bread! I can’t stand diets that exclude bread.

The four breads they ate were homemade sourdough bread, cornbread, pita, and whole wheat, rye, and barley breads (but absolutely no refined flour breads). Not only do I love the four loaves they eat, the sourdough dough has always been my favorite.

Finally, I find a diet that allows me to eat homemade bread! Without guilt! The homemade sourdough bread lives up to the cherry cheesecake (which I don’t think people in the blue zones eat).

I’m pretty excited about the inclusion of sourdough bread. I gave up my research on Blue Zones diets to look for good sourdough recipes. After reading about 20 or 30 recipes online, I decided that making sourdough bread was beyond my limited baking experience, even with the help of my wife, a superb baker. The stumbling block for me was making, using and keeping an “entrance”.

But then there are the bakeries. Just when I was about to take the easier, but more expensive way, I contacted my friend, one of the best bakers and canners in all of East Bernard, who answered my question on the entries. “Oh, I don’t use a starter, I use buttermilk instead,” she said, then emailed me a great, yet simple, recipe. She is my hero!

“We can do it!” I told my wife. “Yes!” she replied. And, as I conclude this column, my wife and I have accumulated the ingredients for the recipe, and are about to make our very first Blue Zones bread.

Ray Spitzenberger is a retired WCJC teacher, a retired LCMS pastor, and the author of three books, It Must Be the Noodles, Open Prairies, and Tanka Schoen.